A Pasco teen charged in a deadly shooting outside Fiesta Foods will wait another three months to see whether he’ll be tried as an adult.
Abraham Barajas, 15, agreed Monday to delay his hearing.
The hearing to decide if his case will stay in Franklin County Juvenile Court, or be bumped up to Superior Court, had been set for this week.
Now, the three-day hearing will start Nov. 2.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Barajas is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
He claims he participated in the killing of Juan C. Melgoza on Feb. 4 because he needed to “put in work” for his gang, according to court documents.
Barajas and his co-defendant, Chris Pedroza-DeSantiago, both were charged in early May.
Pedroza-DeSantiago, 20, allegedly shot Melgoza after the two got into a heated verbal argument in the parking lot of the 10th Avenue grocery store in Pasco.
Melgoza, 42, of Pasco, reportedly was wearing a rival gang color when he crossed paths with Pedroza-DeSantiago at the store. The two argued over Melgoza’s red-colored clothing, then walked away from each other.
However, Pedroza-DeSantiago was angry and had “vindictive desires,” so he enlisted the help of Barajas and returned to the store within minutes, documents said.
Barajas claims that when Pedroza-DeSantiago contacted him that night, he had to go along or he “would have been kicked out of the gang and beaten up.”
They met up east of Fiesta Foods and Pedroza-DeSantiago allegedly showed the teen the pistol, then they argued about who would pull the trigger.
Ultimately, Pedroza-DeSantiago took the pistol out, walked up to their rival and yelled his gang’s name as he fired several times, court documents said. Barajas told investigators he was about 10 feet behind when he saw Melgoza fall to the ground.
The suspects allegedly ran to a nearby house, then got a ride to a Kennewick apartment where they stayed the night.
On Monday, lawyer Karyn Oldfield said she needs more time to investigate Barajas’ background and the current allegations, and to prepare the defense so she can fight to keep his case in Juvenile Court.
Franklin County Deputy Prosecutor Kim Kremer said she understood Oldfield’s request and did not object “given the gravity of this type of hearing.”
Judge Cameron Mitchell asked Barajas if he agreed with the continuance.
“Yes,” said Barajas.
The judge told both sides he hopes they will be ready to go Nov. 2 because “Mr. Barajas has been here for some time in Juvenile Court.”
Barajas — dressed in a gray T-shirt and dark red pants issued by the Juvenile Detention Center — initially smiled at his mother and more than a half-dozen other family members in court, but then teared up.
He will turn 16 on Aug. 28.
Barajas has not yet entered a plea to the felony charges. He is held on $250,000 bail.
Pedroza-DeSantiago is charged in Franklin County Superior Court with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a gun.
He has pleaded innocent to the charges and has an Oct. 12 trial date. His bail is set at $500,000.